Jewish studies thrive in new permanent home

February 12, 2014 11:00 AM

Mary Sparacello

As the longest-running faculty member of the Jewish Studies Department at Tulane University, Rabbi David Goldstein has watched Jewish studies flourish, culminating with a new home on Freret Street.

Rabbi David Goldstein

Rabbi David Goldstein has watched Jewish studies flourish at Tulane University since its inception more than 30 years ago, culminating with a new home on Freret Street. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

“The house represents the success of Jewish studies at Tulane,” says Goldstein, who has contributed to the department’s success with a generous gift he and his wife, Shannie Goldstein, made to the Department of Jewish Studies in honor of Tulane President Scott Cowen and his wife, Margie Cowen. 

“We believe so deeply in Jewish intellectual studies on campus that we wanted to do our best to ensure it succeeds far into the future,” says Goldstein, rabbi emeritus at Touro Synagogue, who began teaching at Tulane in 1978.

The Jewish studies program was established at Tulane in 1982 and in 2012 became a full-fledged department within the School of Liberal Arts. 

Last semester, the Jewish Studies Department moved into a two-story, columned house at 7031 Freret St., with professors’ offices, a seminar room and an impressive Jewish studies library. 

Previously, professors were spread around campus, preventing a “symbiotic” learning environment between students and faculty, says department chair Brian Horowitz.  

“Students come here and interact, check email, have a cup of coffee, sign up for an independent study and see the library’s rare books,” says Horowitz. 

Bob Wolfberg, a 1992 graduate, made a gift to the School of Liberal Arts that was used to refurbish the building and add amenities such as shelves for library books and media equipment for the seminar room.

Goldstein says Jewish studies at Tulane is going through a second “golden age.”

The first, he says, was in the 1980s under professor Joseph Cohen of the English Department who established the program. Now, the Jewish Studies Department has an impressive core faculty, and about 500 students each semester take a Jewish studies course, Horowitz says.

“The growth of Jewish studies has been phenomenal,” says Goldstein.

Mary Sparacello is a communications specialist in the Office of Development Communications.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000